COASTAL fishermen are hoping the federal and state governments will consider their suggestions to improve the fishing sector in south Johor.
Johor South Fishermen Association chairman Azli Mohd Aziz said they needed help to diversify their activities to supplement their income.
“Large-scale land reclamation projects along the shoreline have affected our livelihood as the fishing zones for us have shrunk,” Azli, 57, said in an interview at Pasar Nelayan in Kampung Pasir Gudang Baru, Pasir Gudang, Johor.
He said their income had declined between 50% and 60% in the past five to seven years due to land reclamation activities for waterfront development projects.
Azli said the association had in 2019, asked the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry to organise courses for fishermen to venture into agro-tourism.
“The ministry should work with the Marine Department to train and issue licences to our members so they can become helmsmen to cater to anglers,” he said, adding that it would cost them RM1,500 to acquire the licence.
Azli said there was good demand from anglers and fishing enthusiasts, including those from Singapore, but fishermen do not have the required licence to bring them out to sea.
He said the proposals were made before the last general election but did not materialise as there was a change in government at both federal and state levels.
Azli said there were plans by the previous Barisan Nasional state government to turn Pulau Juling near Kong Kong, Masai into a resort and seafood restaurant.
“We hope the state government will consider going ahead with the project as it will benefit us,” he added.
Azli said the association had also submitted proposals to the state government to develop Kampung Sungai Temon and Kampung Bakar Batu Perling, which are Orang Asli villages, as agro-tourism products.
The Pasar Nelayan Orang Asli in Kampung Kuala Masai had been approved and would open soon, to benefit 66 Orang Asli households in the village, he added.
Also in the pipeline are mussel breeding projects at Sungai Tiga in Tanjung Langsat, Pasir Gudang and Sungai Papan in Pengerang, Kota Tinggi.
There are about 2,500 coastal fishermen in south Johor and their fishing areas are within 10 nautical miles covering Tanjung Piai, Iskandar Puteri, Pulai, Johor Baru, Pasir Gudang and Tebrau.